Transportation Committee Considers Center City Connector


Update: All images are taken from the execellent center city connector presentation put together by SDOT. We encourage you to read through the full presentation to best understand the project.


Connection_OptionsOn Tuesday, the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee considered legislation about the preferred local alternative for the Center City Connector, a project to connect the two existing streetcar alignments (South Lake Union Streetcar and First Hill Streetcar) into a single integrated streetcar line. Previous iterations of this study narrowed the focus to a streetcar on 1st Avenue Downtown. The final release of this study, which selects a preferred alternative produced the following findings:

  1. Exclusive LanesExclusive lanes on 1st Avenue are the preferred alternative. This is due both to a positive cost/benefit analysis and strong public support.
  2. SLU Connection Options. The report recommended both the Stewart/Olive couplet and the Pike/4th-Pine/5th couplet connections to the South Lake Union line for study in the environmental review. Strong public support saved the Pike/Pine couplet from the chopping block, even though it may prove complicated to implement given the need to protect the waterproofing for the downtown transit tunnel which it crosses.
  3. exclusive_lanes_exampleHub-to-hub operations. Rather than running all cars from end-to-end, the study recommends running streetcars from the SLU line as far as the 5th and Jackson stop (near King Street Station) and running the First Hill Streetcar as far as Westlake Station. The objective here is to obtain up to 5-minute frequencies in the corridor between Westlake Station and the King Street Station. All other segments would run at up to 10-minute frequencies.
Overall the study produced unsurprising results, though the inclusion of two connection options for the SLU Streetcar was a little unexpected. The full City Council will vote on whether or not to move this project forward on Monday, and if it passes it will proceed onto environmental review and 30% design. If all proceeds as planned, the line may be operational as soon as 2018. Be sure to let the council know that you support the support the project.

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Charles is an avid cyclist that uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation. He grew up in the Puget Sound, but is currently overseas living in Japan. He covers a range of topics like cycling, transit, and land use. His time in Tokyo really opened his eyes to what urbanism offers people and has a strong desire to see growth happen in Seattle.

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The buses are a huge annoyance to pedestrians and motorists alike, and a pox on the aesthetic of Seattle. They are too big, too awkward, and too many in number. Until this city’s “leaders” ante-up for expanded streetcar / light rail service, Seattle will always be considered a 3rd tier city….

Dale Terasaki

I’m a big fan of the idea posted on STB a long time ago of splitting and extending FH line down to I-90 or Mt Baker on Rainier. Would do tons for regional connectivity – East side to first hill/cap hill w/o slogging through downtown tunnel, airport to first hill via rail. Asked someone at the roy st extension mtg if anyone at SDOT has been stewing on it. answer: naw.

Ben Schiendelman

A would be AMAZING.

Robert Cruickshank

I’m torn. A is probably a bit better for operations and for end-to-end running time. But B serves the heart of the downtown core, which even with the DSTT issue that Charles notes is pretty damn compelling. Glad that both are being given further study. Will be interesting to see what it shows.

Ben Schiendelman

The big problem with B is that it requires a bunch of turns and movements across congested corridors that A does not. We won’t get enough priority to mitigate it, so it would impact ridership, likely more than the one block walk. 🙂

Robert Cruickshank

But that impact could be itself mitigated by being able to attract riders right off of the ultra-popular Pine and Pike corridors, where many major destinations and pedestrians are. So it’s a question of whether the line’s purpose is to get people from SLU to Pioneer Square as quickly as possible, or get as many people as possible to the key downtown destinations. Which is why a closer study of the two options is so valuable!

Ben Schiendelman

I think a study is valuable, of course. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that being on Stewart changes the line’s purpose – I *think* the tradeoff of distance from, say, Westlake Station might lead to better performance for even those users than with those turns.


I’d like to suggest that if at all possible that included images be clickable to “embiggen” them to readable size. Thanks.

Ben Schiendelman